America has the finest high-tech medical care in the world. If a person is in an accident, the emergency care is exemplary. We also have dedicated, energetic scientists working hard to develop new treatments every day.
I think one area we have not fully accessed is nature and indigenous knowledge. There is still a place for science within this realm, working in harmony with the natural world and people who live in close communion with it to learn from them how we too can do so more gracefully. Preventative health care begins with focusing on sustainable agriculture. This will also help stabilize the climate and prevent war, as hungry people are more belligerent. If you think I am joking, try fasting and working at the same time, and see how long you last.
Traditional crossbreeding of plants is safer and wiser than genetic engineering. Researching and testing the most reliable healing plants and fruits in each region of the earth provides a fertile field for academic and commercial institutions. If we try to leave nature behind, we will not get far, as evidenced by our current state of crisis.
For example, blackberries are incredibly healthy. They grow wild all over the Pacific Northwest of the United States. There is a wonderful blackberry breeding program at Oregon State University that has developed a number of delicious (thornless even!) blackberry varieties. If everyone in this region had a blackberry bush or free blackberries available, many health concerns could be assuaged. Daily berries (in season) really do make a difference in health. Blueberries could be cultivated freely throughout the Northeast. Mangos, avocados, and peaches can be grown in the warmer regions of the country. People’s health is in part determined by the quality of their food and drink. Organic farming will restore the land.
Before you protest and say this will never happen—asserting that we have public space set aside for nature and parks, but only planted with ornamentals—get a load of what the city of Seattle is doing!
In the neighborhood of Beacon Hill a seven acre plot is being planted with grapes, apples, raspberries, blueberries, pears, plums, pineapple, guava, persimmons, and other fruit trees, as well as herbs, chestnuts, and walnuts! It is called the Beacon Food Forest, and was designed in 2009 by students in a permaculture class. beaconfoodforest.weebly.com
The trial plot of two acres is being planted this summer, with the remaining five acres to be completed at a later date. This will be a true, sustainable food bank! Here is a video showing the first plantings:
The founding members of the project hope to educate the community of the benefits of permaculture through the site. Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect, states, “This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park!”
Jenny Pell, permaculturist, explains, “People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season then it means we’re successful.”
Local residents have been enthusiastically pitching in and signing up with comments like, “Put me to work – I can’t wait to get my hands dirty,” and, “Let me know when I can show up with my wheelbarrow.” Help with propagating, mulching, and pruning is welcomed. “People will come in and for example help cut the raspberries back and then be able to take home five or ten raspberry plants to put in their own backyard!” proclaims Pell.
“When we met with all the different people from the community, what they wanted actually was fruits and berries and big nut trees- that was their biggest request. So, we’re looking at paths with berry bushes on both sides, and we’re going to have mixed fruit orchards, and big nut orchards. It will be the largest food forest on public lands in the United States.”
A couple of other folks worldwide have been at the forefront of this movement to get free produce to everyone while reforesting the earth. Kenya’s Queen of the Trees Professor Wangari Maathai inspired the planting of 47 million trees in Kenya and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Her vision of environmental stewardship rather than plunder of natural resources (which has been the accepted norm) has inspired many people. She especially encouraged women to plant trees, beginning the www.Greenbeltmovement.org in 1977.
When she started her work, Professor Maathai saw that “behind the everyday hardships of the poor—environmental degradation, deforestation, and food insecurity—were deeper issues of disempowerment, disenfranchisement, and a loss of the traditional values that had previously enabled communities to protect their environment, work together for mutual benefit, and to do both selflessly and honestly.”
Simply put, Professor Maathai said, “If you destroy the forest then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation… We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk.”
Anthony Anderson of www.growparadise.com states, “When we realize that we can quite easily and quickly begin to grow paradise right where we live, our power returns to us! Growing paradise requires nothing but the spirit of love and growth within us. We invite you to become a part of this, whether directly or by spreading the ideas and growing paradise in your own backyard and local community. Grow paradise. It is ours if we really want it.” He has seeded food forests in Minnesota, California, Arizona, and Cape Town, South Africa.
David Wolfe started the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation www.ftpf.org, which is a nonprofit charity dedicated to planting 18 billion organic fruit trees to “benefit the environment and all its inhabitants!”
“We envision a place where one can have a summer picnic under the shade of a fruit tree, breathe the clean air it generates, and not have to bring anything other than an appetite for the healthy fruits growing overhead. A world where one can take a walk in the park during a lunch break, pick and eat a variety of delicious fruits, plant the seeds so others can eventually do the same and provide an alternative to buying environmentally-destructive, illness-causing, chemically-laden products.”
A pioneer in community agriculture, Farmer John of www.angelicorganics.com states, “Agriculture is an underpinning of our culture. The irrepressibility of life on a farm continually manifests in myriad splendid expressions of life. This glorious unfolding provides us with the sustenance of food, while endlessly nourishing the creative spirit.”
I am very grateful for the amazing hospitals and health care workers we have in this country. They are overburdened, however, because of a lack of preventative and conservational care. With a focus on collective, populist, sustainable agriculture to grow healthy food and medicine for all, chronic disease will diminish, as much chronic degenerative disease is caused by diet and stress related to survival. Food is our first primary need. A plant-based diet is advocated as a foundation for health by leading physicians like Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, Dr. Chopra, and Dr. Mcdougall.
Combining the skills of doctors, nurses, herbalists, midwives, doulas, shamans, gardeners, farmers, artists and other healers in the community, medicine can evolve beyond a solely symptoms-oriented approach to exploring the source, the roots of imbalance and disease. To do this we must look for help toward our origin and our sustenance – the earth.
For those interested in getting closer to the earth in the LA area and visiting the local farms, go to www.pickyourown.org/CAla.htm.
By Ashley H.
1. Blazing a Trail for a Better Bounty of Oregon Berries. (2011, July 26). Retrieved from www.oregonlive.com.
2. Seattle Food Forest. (2012, March 9). Retrieved from www.loe.org.
3. Husted, K. (2012, March 1). Seattle’s First Urban Food Forest will be Open to Foragers. Retrieved from www.npr.org.
4. Leschin-Hoar, B. C. (1, February 2012). It’s Not a Fairytale: Seattle to Build Nation’s First Food Forest . Retrieved from www.takepart.com.
Fossil fuels propelled the industrial revolution over the last two hundred years which has brought wonderful advantages, comforts, and life-enhancing amenities, and some challenges as well. Development can be exciting and beneficial. It is important to look comprehensively at the costs associated with different methods of development because of the numerous options available in this day and age, so that enterprise can serve the greatest good.
Until the 1960′s and 70′s with the Clean Air and the Clean Water Acts, policy makers in America were not too concerned about the human and environmental costs of development. Bigger, better, faster were the concerns. During recent decades pollution and deforestation have become more severe and weather patterns more erratic so that the damage we do to nature can no longer be ignored.
Modern urban human life requires energy. Modern conveniences demand it. Taking this need for fuel into account, where will we get it? Well traditionally we have gotten it from oil, coal, and natural gas aka the fossil fuels http://carbonnationmovie.com/. We owe so many of our modern advancements to fossil fuels, and yet we must begin to wean off of them http://permaculture-media-download.blogspot.com/2011/02/power-of-community-how-cuba-survived.html.
Gigantic hydroelectric dams http://www.internationalrivers.org/node/4292 built on rivers destroying regions upstream and down (for example the Three Gorges dam in China http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9aU43suUvg&feature=player_embedded which displaced more than one million people) have also been used to generate electricity. Side effects of dams can be refugees, increased landslides and waterbourne diseases, and decreased biodiversity.
In recent decades nuclear power has been part of the energy picture as well. Despite scientific genius, nuclear power poses a serious problemhttp://www.ratical.org/radiation/IntoEternity/. Its byproducts like Iodine-129 can remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Cobalt-60, another byproduct, is dangerous for only 5 years, but during that time close exposure to just 1 gram for a few minutes can be lethal. And there are over 430 nuclear plants worldwide http://www.beyondnuclear.org/human-rights/. Three Mile Island in 1979 in Pennsylvania was America’s biggest national nuclear accident that cost $975 million and 14 years to clean up and remove radioactive material. Other nuclear diasters include Chernobyl in 1986 in Ukraine, and Fukushima Daiichi in 2011 in Japan.
A review of nuclear energy policy around the world occurred after the Fukushima accident. Italy banned nuclear power. Germany decided to close all its reactors by 2022. Switzerland also decided to phase out nuclear at the end of the lifetime of its existing reactors (nuclear power plants have a 40 year max lifespan). And in September 2011, German engineering giant Siemens announced that as a result of the Fukushima catastrophe it would withdraw entirely from the nuclear industry and would no longer build nuclear power plants anywhere in the world. Australia, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Malaysia, and Israel are all opposed to nuclear power. Another drawback of nuclear is that it increases the availability of nuclear weapons material because uranium is used for both nuclear power and weapons. Uranium mining http://www.chiptaylor.com/ttlmnp2665-.cfm is hard on the environment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhrWCGIlku4.
The US has created 70,000 tons of nuclear waste over the past sixty years, and no one can figure out what to do with it because it is so deadly. The most popular suggestion is to stick it in a mountain near Las Vegas called Yucca Mountain which would require 40 miles of tunnels. The US has at least 108 sites designated as areas that are contaminated and unusable, sometimes many thousands of acres, due to nuclear power.
In examining the fossil fuels- oil, coal, and natural gas- there are a number of reasons why they are not sustainable http://www.blindspotdoc.com/. They are all found underground and must be mined or drilled for which can be quite disruptive http://www.crudethemovie.com/trailer-and-photos/.Their supplies are finite, meaning there will come a time when we have taken all there is to take out of the earth http://www.postcarbon.org/. And getting them requires that we displace people (often not compensating them for the loss of their land) and demolish ecosystems http://www.globalissues.org/article/86/nigeria-and-oil.
In any endeavor there is always a margin of error, and when an error occurs with technology used to extract or transport these fuels, the results are devastating, like the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 in Alaska and the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The Chilean mining accident in the coal mines of Copiapo in 2010, and the coal mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia in 2010 illustrate the dangers in mining for coal http://www.coalcountrythemovie.com/. Examples of natural gas accidents are the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California and the 2004 pipeline explosion in Ath, Belgium http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/.
Countries are recognizing that they can address these problems by investing in renewable energy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DflgducmN4. Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Improving both sources of energy and energy efficiency are the goals, plus creating lots of green jobs, and more localized, small-scale power generation so there is less dependence on monopolies and less energy used in transport of fuel and electricity. Green jobs http://www.bootsontheroof.com/about-us are especially satisfying because people do not have to compromise their conscience, contaminate their environment, or sacrifice their health in order to work http://www.solarenergy.org/womens-program. Application of renewable technologies adds to the diversity of electricity sources and, through local power generation, increases the adaptability of the system and its resistance to central shocks.
Solar http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/ and wind power http://www.awea.org/ are the world’s fastest growing energy sources. Leading renewable energy companies include First Solar, Q-Cells, Sharp Solar, Suntech, Gamesa, and Vestas. There are economic, social, and environmental benefits to renewable energy http://www.siemens.com/entry/cc/en/#/newzealand. Also wave power from the coastal ocean is being developed by companies like Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave.
Over 400 manufacturing facilities across America make components for wind turbines, and 37 states now have installed at least some utility-scale wind power. The Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas is the largest wind farm in the US http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/solar-wind/4338280?page=2. Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon, which Google is helping to build, will be the largest wind farm in the world when completed in 2012. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis.
Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) is the name given to nine solar power plants in California’s Mojave Desert, which were commissioned between 1984 and 1991. SEGS is the largest solar plant of any kind in the world.
More than 1.5 million homes and businesses currently use solar water heating in the United States. Compared to those with electric water heaters, Florida homeowners with solar water heaters save 50 to 85 percent on their water heating bills http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/index.php.
The global available solar energy resources are 3.8 YJ/yr (120,000 TW). Less than 0.02% of available solar resources are sufficient to entirely replace fossil fuels and nuclear power as an energy source. Solar cell production increased by 50% in 2007, and has been doubling every two years since http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/29/ge-solar-power-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-in-5-years/.
Sustainable biofuels are a great idea too, and can be made from things like algae http://www.oilgae.com/, sewage http://www.magnegas.com/index.html, and used vegetable oil http://www.lovecraftbiofuels.com/. Algae grows fast and has the added bonus of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Finding a way to convert excrement into energy takes care of its disposal as well!
In airline news, more than 200 flights within Europe on Air France/KLM are expected to fly by burning used-cooking-oil biofuel. United Airlines launched its first flight, the ‘Eco Skies test flight’, powered with algae biofuel on November 7, 2011. Virgin and Alaska Airlines are also using jet biofuels, as is the US Military. The US Military has ventured into solar and wind as well http://cleantechnica.com/2012/03/21/u-s-army-gets-its-first-solar-powered-microgrid/!
A large barrier to the implementation of renewable energy is the unpredictability of circumstances in which wind or solar energy can be harnessed . In times with clouds or no wind, “the grid,” or the electrical supply system, must rely upon other sources of energy. According to Joyce, an NPR journalist, the grid turns to natural gas plants for fuel. Coal and nuclear plants are considered a poor fit, due to the expenses of turning them on and off with little warning. Simultaneously, the sporadic usage of gas plants does not provide business for them to be financially successful. One long-term solution to this quandary is the creation and implementation of giant batteries, “systems that store excess power to be released as needed” .
In 2011, a group of scientists began developing one such giant battery. It is intended to be a new kind of fluid battery that ultimately would be able to provide power for 2,000 homes based upon “redox flow technologies—which converts chemical energy to electrical currents very quickly” . They have already created a two kilowatt battery that they ultimately plan to create a 20 megawatt-hour battery.
Similarly, there in several years, the company, Rubenius plans to build a giant “energy-storage facility” near the United States-Mexico Border, providing energy to both countries.
Meanwhile, the State Grid Corporation of China in conjunction with BYD car company created a “battery array” that can hold up to 36 mega-watt hours and is complete with a “smart grid transmission system” . This is the largest-scale renewable energy source based battery connected to an energy grid in the world and will be educational to the world as we observe the long-term results.
Regardless of when these giant batteries come out and how successful these prototypes are, they are clearly one strong option for the future of renewable energy and energy as a whole. The exciting technological advances and experiments will continue to astound us and transform our lives into more sustainable, environmentally sound lives.
By Emily Friedman
Jessica Alba has started an online company for green childcare products. For $85- $100 you can have a month’s green diapers and wipes delivered to your door. Depending on where you live and what age your baby is, the average price of buying disposable diapers from the store for a month is about $80, cloth diapers washed by a service every month costs approximately $80, and cloth diapers washed at home for a month is around $20.
So Jessica’s company is economically comparable, the products are innovative and high-quality, and the philosophy logical. A free trial is offered to experience the products and service. The company is called www.honest.com and it also offers other convenient green baby products like baby shampoo, body balm, laundry detergent etc. A portion of proceeds from sales is donated to www.baby2baby.org which provides childcare basics to those in need in the LA area. Jessica’s product is in the higher price range, but wipes are included, the environmental and health impacts are positive, and the product is delivered directly to the customer’s door every month.
Buying something new requires the extraction and destruction of a lot of resources, not to mention the destruction of our environment in extracting, hauling, manufacturing, packaging and shipping the item.
So if we want to avoid buying new things, what should we do if we need something? After all, there are always times when we feel we need something — not just want or desire, but need it for a real purpose. We might need new clothes, or books, or a bike so we can cut back on using a car.
One mans decision to eliminate his familys impact on the environment in downtown Manhattan, has influenced many more than just his neighbors. Colin Beaven’s inner yearning to make a big difference to the health of the planet, has catapulted him into the eco spotlight with his film, No Impact Man. Here, The Green Dove shares an exclusive interview with the urban green warrior. We’re also giving readers the chance to win one of five No Impact Man DVDs.
Living green can be overwhelming. Where to start? From eco cars and planet-friendly cleaning products to organic wines and veganism, its little wonder many opt to do nothing for fear of not being able to do it all.
Yet its the little steps that add up to mean something big.
I recently got my car detailed at a local place and then gasped at the chemical fumes when I got inside. Are there green detailers out there, or products that I could use myself to keep my vehicle clean and my family out of harms way? – David Berkowitz, Newton, MA
Traditionally, auto detailing has employed a range of not-so-green-friendly products such as ammonia, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nonphenolethoxolates (NPEs), abrasive detergents, and chemical-based leather, vinyl, fabric and carpet treatments. Inside the car, they can off-gas harsh airborne pollutants; when washed down storm drains they can wreak havoc on public water supplies.
Unfortunately, while environmental awareness is beginning to crop up among auto detailing services (online discussion boards are full of posts from professional detailers sharing their tips for greener, more effective products and formulations), finding a green detailing service isnt very easy just yet, so doing it yourself might be the only way to ensure that the environment and your health are spared chemical insult. There are green detailing products and kits out there, easily found through an Internet search.
Two leading suppliers are Laura Kleins Green Cleaning, and Mean Green. These companies, among others, specialize in degreasers, dashboard dressings, tire cleaners, spot removers and other products made with natural, biodegradable water- and plant-based substances (including coconut, palm, citrus, corn and soy), combined and concentrated to be as effective as or better than their chemical-laden counterparts.
Another way to be green and clean at the same time is to choose wash and wax products that dont contain harsh chemical surfactants-and as such dont require water-wasting, polluting rinses. No-Wet Waterless Concepts and Optimum Polymer Technologies are two leading manufacturers for such goods.
Do-it-yourselfers should be careful not to dump wastewater into nearby storm drains not intended to carry toxic run-off. Most reputable car wash businesses go to great lengths to make sure the water, soaps, oils and other dirt from your car doesnt end up polluting groundwater, rivers and streams, and so should you. If you clean your car in your own driveway or garage, try to collect any run-off and dispose of it into a drain or toilet that will send it through the sewage treatment system, not into the curbside storm run-off drain that may well lead directly to a local water body or shoreline.
While finding a green detailer may not be easy, you can start by asking those operators in your region if they currently use environmentally-friendly products and/or processes. If not, ask them if they would be amenable to greening up their operations for the sake of attracting customers like you.
Some detailers that have already taken the green plunge include: Ecodetail Services of Sacramento, CA; Car Wash Concepts of Aliso Viejo, CA; Gias Detailing of Long Island, NY; Scotts Mobile Auto Detailing of Tarrant County, TX; and Elite Detailing Service Inc. of Plainfield, IL. These providers share an interest in environmental protection, use minimal amounts of water and other resources, and dispose of run-off according to the stringent standards set forth under the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts.
SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children worldwide are being united through a project that aims to bring awareness to climate change. The Climate Quilt Campaign encourages students to design pledge patches from recycled material, each featuring their promises to preserve the planet’s future. Kids worldwide can have their pledge patch included on the quilt, which was this week shown on Good Morning America (pictured). See www.climatequilt.org.
The Climate Quilt Campaign (www.climatequilt.org), an International initiative created to encourage youth worldwide to get involved with protecting the environment was recently on display at the UN Climate Conference and is now headed back to the US for Earth Day (April 22).
Several decades ago, a few creative thinkers started redefining the traditional idea of home. From coast to coast, people started looking at their environment and began building with eco-inspired homes.